Young Marcia Shaw is not thrilled to hear that a mother's helper named Fannie Farmer is joining her Victorian household to cook for the growing family. Somehow, though, it's hard to complain when suddenly the blueberry pies are "sweeter than a summer sky" and the biscuits are "small, light, and flaky. Just delicious." In spite of herself, Marcia quickly becomes an avid fan and ardent student of Fannie, even encouraging her to begin writing precise instructions to her cookery magic, thus spawning one of the first published cookbooks, Boston Cooking-School Cook Book
, a.k.a. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook
Considered the pioneer of the modern recipe, Fannie Farmer transformed countless kitchens into oases of exact measurements and perfect cooking. Deborah Hopkinson's fictionalized account, complete with original griddle cakes recipe, is a warm, humorous take on the real Fannie Farmer. Nancy Carpenter created splendidly original illustrations for the book, manipulating 19th-century etchings and engravings and blending them with her own watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations. Wonderful! (Ages 4 to 8) --Emilie Coulter
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From Publishers Weekly
Prepared to perfection and served up with style, this historical nugget imagines an interlude in the life of cookbook pioneer Fannie Farmer, who, prior to her stint at the Boston Cooking School, worked as a mother's helper. As Hopkinson (Maria's Comet) envisions it, the daughter of the house--who has a touch of the Eloise gene--is not at all pleased with Fannie's arrival. "I'm your helper," the spunky Marcia protests to her mother, but she soon becomes an acolyte: "Fannie seemed like a magician who could make mashed potatoes fluffier than clouds and blueberry pies sweeter than a summer sky." Marcia's many culinary flops, on the other hand, from discovering that she has cracked a rotten egg into her batter to flipping a griddle cake onto the cat, ultimately inspire the unflappable Fannie to write down precise instructions in a precursor to her immortal cookbook. Cleverly served up in seven brief "courses," the proceedings are garnished with Carpenter's irreverent illustrations, which seamlessly incorporate period engravings within pen-and-wash drawings. Her scenes wittily spoof Victorian decorum, whether showing the perfectly coiffed and coutured lady of the house greedily licking her plate or the initially sullen Marcia, slumped in a chair with her back to the reader, her scowl reflected in a pair of water glasses, a gravy boat and a decanter. The biographical afterword and an appended pancake recipe are simply icing on the (griddle) cake. Ages 4-9.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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